A Fish Story
If you've walked away from God, Jesus is lovingly calling you back
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
You know, one of the things that always fascinates me is how a song, or a place, or even a smell can trigger a powerful memory.
This is true with so much of music.
You can hear a song on the radio, and it’s like immediately, you’re right back in high school.
Thinking of the days when you used to just drive around with your friends for absolutely no reason…singing to the radio, and thanking God your voice finally changed.
Just on Thursday, I was listening to music, and a super random song came on, and just like that, I was transported in a time machine back to 2003.
The song playing was the first song I heard when I got in the car after I asked Lindsey’s dad if I could marry his daughter.
I was super nervous, and when he said, yes, I just remember feeling so elated.
So happy that my memory of that moment fused with that song, and whenever I hear that song, it takes me right back there…driving through the streets of Cambridge, with the windows down, smiling ear-to-ear (waving)
For some people it’s a smell that triggers a memory.
There are actually studies out there that say that of all the five senses, smell is the one that brings with it the strongest memories.
For instance, let’s say you’re over at friend’s house for dinner, and they bring out of the kitchen…some meal that your grandma used to make when you were little.
And it looks like just it…and SMELLS just like it.
And just like THAT….even though your grandma passed 15 years ago, it’s like you’re brought right back in her kitchen, remembering everything.
Sometimes it’s a place…or a situation.
For instance, whenever I walk back on my college campus…it’s amazing how the memories just flood back.
I’m not thinking about those memories normally, but just being in that place…they come.
And sometimes when I’m there, it’s God speaking to me
Reminding me of all the good things He did in my life while I was there
And it’s not like I couldn’t think of those at any time, but the places just have a special way of bringing them back.
And sometimes God will use things like places as a powerful way to once again REMIND us of WHO he is…and WHAT He’s done.
And this morning, I want to show you an example of how He creatively does that in the Bible, in history, in a powerful way.
PETER MEETS JESUS
And to do so, we’re going to focus in on one person’s story with God: Peter.
Peter was an ordinary fisherman in the region of Galilee. A region north of Jerusalem.
He had had a couple of encounters with Jesus…
But nothing too serious at this point.
But then, Peter has a chance encounter with Jesus, just as Jesus was beginning his ministry.
3 years of ministry that would start with a ton of crowds at the beginning, but end in him being deserted and murdered on a cross.
But towards the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus picked out 12 disciples.
And Peter, and some of his friends are about to be called.
We’re going to start in Luke chapter 5 today.
There are 4 stories about Jesus in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
If you want to follow along, there’s a Bible under every chair.
By the way, if you don’t have a bible…this is our gift to you.
Or you can follow along on the YouVersion Holy Bible app, just click live, and type in our zip code: 55449.
(Luke 5:1-11) – NIV
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret (explain), the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon(explain),, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
And from this point on, for the next 3 years, Peter would follow Jesus everywhere.
Think about that! They left EVERYTHING to follow Him EVERYWHERE!
Now, it’s important to note that Peter is not an amateur fisherman here.
This isn’t his hobby. He wasn’t up on Lake Vermillion, muskie fishing for fun.
This is his livelihood. He’s a professional fisherman.
They fished on pretty large boats back then…20 to 30 feet long.
Boats Peter probably owned. His own business.
But just like that…he leaves it all…to follow Jesus.
Peter’s so struck by this moment…the moment you see on screen…that was painted for us.
Because remember, Peter’s a professional.
He KNOWS fishing!
And along comes this Jesus guy, who’s a carpenter, and knows nothing about fishing, and yet THIS happens!
It’s Peter’s “God Moment!”
God has revealed himself in Jesus.
God is real.
And now, Peter’s going to leave EVERYTHING and follow Jesus.
It would be like you at work…in your cubicle…like any other day…dominating some quarterly reports on Microsoft Excel….checking facebook every 5 minutes…pretty normal day at work.
But on the way to the water cooler, you have a chance encounter with Jesus…
And in that moment, Jesus is so compelling, it’s so OBVIOUS to you that this is God…that this is the Savior…that you just leave right there and follow Him.
You don’t even take time to say goodbye to your coworkers… you just go
PETER FALLS AWAY
And for the next three years, Peter faithfully follows Jesus.
And he sees Jesus do some truly miraculous stuff
But then, at the end of the 3 years, well…everything just falls apart.
On Thursday…of that very first Easter weekend, Jesus is arrested.
And it doesn’t look good.
In fact, it’s almost a done deal already that they’re going to kill him.
In a couple of days, this guy, who Peter had followed everywhere for 3 years, is going to be executed by the state.
And just like that…it’s over.
I mean…it’s just over. Peter left everything for this. And now it’s over. He’s dead!
Was Jesus a fake? Was this even real? I thought he was supposed to be the savior?!?
In fact, when Jesus is arrested, Peter, still holding out a glimmer of hope, follows Him from a distance. And while the trial is going on, Peter’s hanging out just outside in the courtyard…maybe hoping to hear a part of the trial.
While he’s there, some completely random people come up to Peter and say, “Hey…weren’t you with that Jesus guy.”
And even though Peter just spent every day of the last 3 years with Jesus, he saw him walk on water, heal people, raise the dead, you name it…Peter says, “Uh…I don’t know what you’re talking about”
He doubts. Peter thinks it’s all over. He starts looking out for himself.
He gets asked twice more, “Um…I’m pretty sure you were with that Jesus dude, cuz you’re accent sounds like you’re from Galilee,”
And three different times, he denies Christ, just like Jesus, earlier that night, prophesied that he would.
And as the rooster crowed, which Jesus said would happen, Peter runs out of the courtyard, weeping bitterly…
Everything is falling apart.
Peter doesn’t even stick around with Jesus to see him die.
He’s too ashamed.
Everything is falling apart.
And maybe you’ve been there.
Maybe….years ago…you had some good experiences with God.
Maybe it was when you were a kid….at Sunday school.
Maybe it was in a youth group at church…or at a camp.
Or at a different church you went to as a young adult.
You saw God move….but now…well, it’s just not the same.
Things aren’t what they used to be. It’s just different now. Life’s more complicated. You don’t have that relationship like you used to.
Maybe you just drifted apart over time.
Maybe something happened.
Maybe…you feel like you’ve just messed up too much to be close to God. Too many mistakes.
I guarantee you that’s what Peter felt like.
He felt so embarrassed by the fact that he DENIED Jesus himself, that he just runs away from it all.
Well, a few days later….everything’s going to change.
See, here’s the thing about Jesus
You can kill him…but you can’t keep him down.
And on that very first Easter morning…word gets out…
This Jesus…who they just crucified 3 days earlier…is not in the tomb! He’s risen from the dead!
And everybody’s going crazy.
See because...they thought it was over.
They thought everything they had lived for, left homes for, given their lives to…was over.
But you can’t keep God down. You can’t stop God…you can’t outwit God…you can’t kill God.
And Jesus rises from the dead.
And can you imagine the range of emotions Peter feels now?
I mean, he’s obviously excited…but that doesn’t mean the shame has gone away.
He just denied God. He just deserted the savior. He denied the very person he was living his whole life for!!
And what’s Jesus going to say when he sees him?
You know what I’m talking about?!?
Let’s say you had a best friend.
And for 3 years, you did everything together. You hung out, your families went on vacation together, you met every week for coffee to catch up, every week you watched Duck Dynasty together…you were the best of friends.
But then, let’s say, one day, your friend gets arrested. And chances are, it’s probably even a wrongful arrest, because your friend is a great person! (they hang out w/ you!)
And your friend, from prison, gets one phone call…so they’re going to call you.
So the prison calls first and says, “So and so has been arrested for this crime (here’s what they did). They claim you’re their best friend, & want to talk to you…can I put them on the line?”
But you…out of fear…because you don’t want to be associated with this person if they really did this!?!
You say, “Uh, um, um, I actually don’t even know who that is.”
Now let’s say, the person ends up getting acquitted because they didn’t do it.
But you are way too embarrassed by what you did, so you’re not in contact with them anymore.
But one day, you happen to be walking through CUB Foods…down the frozen foods aisle, when you look up from texting while driving your cart…and it’s your old best friend.
What are they gonna say to you? What are they thinking?
Now, that’s just a fraction of the emotion that Peter’s felling. He denied Jesus himself.
What’s Jesus going to say?? Well, let’s find out.
After Jesus resurrects on Easter, he eventually appears to the disciples.
This is on page 881 if you want to keep following along
(John 20:19-20) – NIV
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
A week later, Jesus appears to the disciples again, but AGAIN, it’s a super brief appearance.
And you can almost just picture Peter…kind of hanging out in the back of the circle of disciples crowding around Jesus.
On the outside going, “Yea! Praise God…you’re back! You’re the savior!”
But on the inside going, “What’s he think of me? He knows what I did.. He’s God, of course He knows. Am I gonna be punished? Does He still want to use me??”
And both times Jesus briefly shows up to the disciples…Peter gets no answer on that. No direction. No clarity.
But a short time later…something amazing happens.
But before we get there, I want you to remember something:
Up until this point…what would you say is probably the most impactful moment of Peter’s life this far???
It’s the boat! It’s in the boat! It’s the Fish Story
When the Savior of the world showed up out of nowhere, and told him, the fishermen, to put his net down…and all these fish came up.
Because it was in THAT moment, that Jesus was calling him, Peter, DESPITE who he was, to follow Him…and he was telling him that he was going to use him to fish for people…to bring hope to people!
Watch what happens next!
This is not long after Jesus’ second appearance to the disciples
(John 21:1-3) – NIV
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee (Explain-Peter’s original fishing buddies), and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
So Peter and his friends, most notably James & John, are going out to fish.
On the Sea of Galilee. The same exact lake…where they first really met Jesus.
(John 21:4-6) – NIV
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. ”When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
And in that moment in time…as the nets became full…and they couldn’t haul them in…again…because some random guy said throw your net on the side…the flood of emotion in Peter’s life had to be immeasurable.
And in speaking to Peter’s heart…Jesus really didn’t have to say anything.
Just like…when you hear that song that takes you back…or the smell of the food Grandma used to make…or being in that same location once again where God once moved mightily in your life
You remember. And Peter’s heart…remembers.
Jesus could have appeared to these disciples in any way.
Yet he chose to do it this way.
Because in this way, He could show Peter….that “Just like when we first met…and you felt like you were too sinful to even be around me…and yet, I still called you….
Even now…even though you messed up again…I’m still calling you! Just like before. I still love you.”
And Peter gets it. In fact, he more than gets it!
(John 21:7-11) – NIV
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.
I want you to see something so clearly in the Bible this morning.
If you feel like you’ve wandered from the faith…you’ve walked away from God…you’ve drifted apart…you’ve ignored him, whatever the case
That you can come back. You can come back. He will take you back.
In fact, he’s reaching out to your heart…your senses even this morning, beckoning you back.
Reminding you right now that…He IS Good.
He’s not this God of “how dare you” or “don’t think about coming back until you’ve made it up to me”
This is the God, who, to his closest friend who denied him when he needed him most…reaches out to tell him specifically, that he still loves him, and that he can still use him.
And He says that very same thing to you today.
Come back to Him.
For He is life. He is good.
Or maybe you’re sitting here this morning, and you’ve never had a relationship with Jesus.
I mean…you believe God exists…but you wouldn’t say you have a relationship with Him. A friendship.
But this is what Easter is all about.
That Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead…for YOU.
But what does that even mean? Jesus died for you? WHY? Why did he even have to die?
Well, here’s the deal…you and I…we fall way short of God’s standards.
We’re not even in the same stratosphere
And God is a holy God. And a just God.
He can’t just let our sin…our rebellion against the very creator that gave us life in the first place …go unpunished.
God has to be just….You can’t have a God who isn’t just.
But this God…as you see in Jesus…is the most loving being ever. EVER. Period!
So He said…here’s what I’ll do: I will send…my very own son, to take the punishment for you, on the cross.
And Jesus…in dying on the cross, is taking our punishment.
It’s crazy! It’s remarkable!
And the Bible tells us, that all we have to do to be forgiven, to be saved, to be given eternal life in heaven is to believe in Him.
(Romans 10:9) – NIV
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
It’s a free gift to everyone who wants to believe and follow Jesus.
It’s not a reward you can earn. You can never be good enough. You can’t sneak into heaven based on your own goodness.
If you could, there’d be no point to Jesus’ death.
He died, so that we could have life.
And He rose from the dead, proving that he conquered over death, and so can we.
That after this life is over…that we can live in paradise…with Him…our savior…forever!
But maybe you feel like…yeah, but who am I? I’m nobody special. I don’t have my life together…I’m not super religious and all that stuff.
But neither was Peter…neither were the disciples.
Most of them just ordinary fishermen
In fact, remember when Peter first met Jesus??
He felt so sinful around Jesus that he said, “Get away from me Lord, I am a sinful man!”
He feels like he has no chance with Jesus…but Jesus calls him anyway!
And yeras later…after he denied Jesus 3 times, he feels like he’s maybe blown the one chance he had, but Jesus still calls him anyway!
This is the same God that is calling out to you now.
See…God doesn’t care what you’ve done in your past.
And let me tell you why.
Before Jesus went to the cross to die for you…in your place…he already knew everything you would ever do…everything…
And he STILL said…I love them so much…I want to die in their place, so they can be forgiven and have life.
It’s amazing. It’s the greatest news ever!
So today, if you want to be completely forgiven, and start a relationship with Jesus…the most amazing thing on the planet…all you have to do is confess and believe.
Tell him you will follow Him…with your life.
This is a decision I made when I was 18 years old, after not living for God whatsoever…and it radically changed my life…and my eternal life.
And you can do this today.
If you’ve never given your life to Christ before…you’ve never told him that you really believe that he died for YOU…and that you trust Him, to forgive you, and that you’ll be his follower.
If you’ve never done that before…let’s do it this morning!
Let’s cross the line of faith and let God change your life!
Here on earth and for forever.
In fact, let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes…as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If you want to believe in what Jesus did for you and commit your life to him (to make Him your leader & forgiver) to be completely forgiven! If that’s you…and you’ve never done this before…in just a few moments, I’m going to ask you to raise your hand
We’ll all have our eyes closed, so this is just between you & God
But I believe today, it’s important for you to raise your hand today, as a symbol to say, “You died for me…for ME…I believe. I’ll follow now”
So wherever you are, all across this room right now. If you’d like to become a follower of Christ, and accept his gift of forgiveness, raise your hand wherever you are.
If you’re raising your hand, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at…and the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
EVERYONE repeat after me with these new believers.
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life. Amen
AMEN!! Let’s just clap and praise God.
Let me thank Him and PRAY.
If you gave your life to Christ today, I need you to do just 1 thing for me
Right after the service today, I want you to go to either the back of the room or to the right of the hallway table on your way out…for just a moment.
In the back, and in the hallway, there are signs that say “FOLLOW-UP”
There will be some incredibly nice people there (they have lanyards on) who want to give you some extremely helpful tools to help you get started in your faith
Won’t take you very long. But absolutely go back there.
Let me just pray & thank God!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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